I wasn’t anticipating writing another article until I finished a Lessons post, but I just had to write about the experience I just had not two minutes ago.
It all started innocently enough. I logged into to find TISHU knocking around a few ping-pong balls in Cloud Ring. So, I jumped into a Heretic, caught a titan bridge, and made my way there.
It started as a gate camp farming all sorts of traffic between two Pandemic Horde systems, and it started to morph into some entosis fun a few jumps away. I had just put up a bubble to kill a Catalyst, and was a little behind the rest of the fleet.
I was picking clean the carcass of my last kill when a Kestrel landed on the edge of my interdiction bubble, so I burned into him and killed him, just as a few of his friends arrived. They had warped in from different vectors, so I had a little space between me and them… long enough for me to warp off. However, the Kestrel got me into very light armor, about 95%.
As I bounced safes, I switched overviews to scan for bubbles. My out-gate was clear, so I started making my way out of the system towards B-D, six jumps away. At the time, I felt I was having a pretty good night. All of my kills were small gang, and we were having good fun in someone else’s space. It was exactly why I joined Adversity (well, that and taking 8 gates in a fleet of Archons to kill Tempest Fleet Issues).
But all of that was prelude to a moment of transcendent satisfaction.
I’ve written before about the structure fight, the very best kind of PvP engagement. For me, nothing in Eve can compare to the beautiful, terrifying, humbling, delightful experience of fighting another pilot of equal skill, in equal ships, 1v1. Such experiences are actually quite rare. Too often, solo pilots are met with blobs or hot drops.
I was two jumps out of my destination when I landed on a gate with a Sabre. I hadn’t seen anyone for a couple jumps, so I figured it would be just him and me. The thought of a hot drop didn’t even cross my mind.
As I loaded grid in FD53-H, local was empty. This was it! I had stumbled into a structure fight, in null-sec, between two large fleets within a six jump range.
I immediately burned back to the gate. In case the Sabre spawned too far away, I wanted to be able to catch him with my bubble. He spawned 24 km away. I locked him and overheated my guns. For a moment, I thought he’d try to run, but then I saw that comforting yellow box pop up on my overview. When I entered range, I activated my scram and web and starting cycling my launchers.
At first, I started further away, but he had no problem applying damage at that range. I thought he might have been arty-fit, so I started cycling in closer, even though it did nothing to improve my own missile damage. It was a race. He ran into my armor tank first, but I expected that against a shield-tank. As I approached, his damage output began to creep up. I hoped to slip under his guns, but I never made it closer than 3,500 m.
I saw his ship disappear from the overview before I saw the explosion, and for a moment, I thought perhaps he had been stabbed and warped out. After all, I had locked him first, consistent with him suffering the scan resolution penalty of a WCS.
But, no, he had exploded. Interdictor vs. Interdictor, 1v1, with two characters of a similar age. And every moment of it, I was appreciating the rarity of the duel.
So, as quickly as I could make it back to a safe POS, I sat down to write it out.
The Sabre pilot’s name is ian scomeda. Everything I need to know about him came out during that fight. He has my utmost respect, and always will.
I’ve said before that a human opponent is the greatest adversary anyone can ever have. And there’s no event in Eve sweeter than the entire history of a pilot’s experience, strategy, and skill crashing against that of another in an empty system.
There is a space bushido, however bruised and damaged it may be. A stillness and appreciation of the moment. A connection between those two pilots that no amount of time or experience can ever undo. They may forget it each other or the particulars of that fight with the passage of time, but for that moment, those two pilots share a transcendent experience.
Eve is a silly Internet game, but the rare satisfaction capable of being experienced on that moment isn’t about the mechanics or the result. Those pass, and are without meaning. No, the satisfaction comes from the chance meeting of two kindred spirits bringing of the same mindset, who appreciate the same things and share the same priorities, to a proving of their worth.
That’s why I fly. That’s why I play this game. Nothing can rival the absolute parity, the absolute purity of this kind of experience. Eve isn’t about winning. It’s about living in the perfection of a temporary present.